Mindful Living Personal development Wednesday Wisdom

Are You Willing to Take Off Your Mask?

Are you willing to take off your mask

I read this story in a book titled “Only Fear Dies” by Barry Long and loved it.

Long ago, when people were less focused on their appearance than they are today, there was a man (maybe it was a woman, who knows?). He made himself an amazing mask that could make many faces and expressions. He would wear the mask and amuse himself by suddenly jumping in front of people just to see their reactions. The mask made different faces – crying, laughing, grimacing and scowling.

Obviously, his victims were shocked when they encountered the face, no matter what the expression. The man didn’t care how they reacted. His excitement came purely from their reactions.  Of course, he knew he was himself behind the mask. To him, he was the joker and the joke was on them.

Initially, he would step out wearing the mask a couple of times every day. But the people’s reactions excited him so much that gradually, he just kept the mask on all day. Why take it off, he thought and he even started sleeping with it on.

Life went on. Years passed. The man enjoyed being behind the mask.

Then, one fine day, he woke up. He felt there was something missing in his life. He felt lonely.

He jumped up and stepped out in front of a lovely woman and fell in love with her. But the woman just screamed and ran off, frightened by the face.  He ran after her calling for her to stop, frantically trying to take the mask off so she could see who he really was. But the mask wouldn’t come off. The man was horrified to find that the mask had fused onto his face. It had become his face.

Days passed. He tried to tell whoever he saw what had happened but no one believed him. Nobody cared. The truth was, they had all copied him. They had also put on masks of their own—they were excited about being who they were not. And like him, they had also become the mask.

Because pretending to be happy is almost like being happy. Until you remember that you're only pretending. Then you're sad. Really sad. Because wearing a mask every day of your life is the hardest thing to do. And after a while, you get a little scared because the mask becomes you.. Are you willing to take off your mask? #mindfulness #beyourself #inspirationalquotes

Now, would you like a happy ending to this story?

Fine. So would I!

But the thing is—the happy ending is in your hands.

You are the person behind the mask.

The mask you are wearing is your personality.

Go look in the mirror.

Look at the faces you make.

Sometimes approving, sometimes disapproving.

Can you believe that’s you? Maybe not.

And so you glance at yourself in every mirror you see—just to reassure yourself that it is you.

Do you sometimes get the weird feeling of wanting to rip off that mask?

Not surprising.

But it isn’t something people like to talk about because it seems silly.

But it is not silly, right? Not when you start being honest with yourself.

We carry the load of our personality—and sometimes it is a strain because it is a pretense.

Keeping up with it weighs us down and can be tiring.

We conveniently blame many things for the way we feel—our work, our relationships, our diet, our problems—and yet, it is so hard to admit that our own personality has cut us off from our natural selves.

This personality makes us worry and feel emotional.

It makes you moody and doubt yourself.

It confuses you – makes you afraid of the future, triggers guilt and regret about the past and restlessness with the present.

Sounds familiar?

What to do?

Don’t you think it is time to rip off the mask? By using this shield, you have signed away your authority—allowing this personality to defend you when someone hurts you, threatens you, or criticizes you.  Even when it makes you react insensitively at times, you see it as your protection, so you simply tolerate it, put up with it and even make excuses for it to yourself. And now, it has taken over your life and you don’t know if you’ll ever be free of it.

Here’s the thing. You don’t need this protection.  Don’t be afraid to live without it. Believe you have the energy in you to live that life without the mask.

Are you willing to take off your mask?

Wednesday Wisdom is a series with short bursts of easy-to-consume wisdom in the form of stories, quotes, anecdotes, and humor.

8 Comments

  • Reply
    Debbie D.
    February 7, 2019 at 9:47 am

    We all don the proverbial mask from time to time when things aren’t going well. Is that where the expression “putting on a brave face” comes from? Similar to the old “never let them see you sweat” adage. People who constantly put up a front and never let anyone get close are going to wind up very sad and lonely in the end. Thanks for sharing this thought-provoking fable, Vidya!
    Debbie D. recently posted…BOOKS, BOOKS, EVERYWHERE! #PhotoBlogChal

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      February 7, 2019 at 10:05 am

      Thank you Debbie! You’re right. It is often necessary to put on that mask, but not for so long that we lose our real faces! Thanks for coming by! Always appreciate your comments.

  • Reply
    Venice
    February 7, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    Fascinating story, and so apt for us. We’re all too used to wearing different masks. Even now that social media is here, it’s easy for anyone to put on yet another mask – a digital mask. There are times when I catch myself in the act, but at other times, it’s stuck on just like the protagonist’s did.
    Venice recently posted…Honest’l’y Unwelcome

  • Reply
    Kalpana Solsi
    February 7, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    I feel suffocated donning a mask. Many a times I am penalized for not wearing one . Bit am happy the way I am.’
    Kalpana Solsi recently posted…Lantern

  • Reply
    Debbie Hampton
    February 13, 2019 at 12:21 am

    I did want a happy ending to the story! For most of my life, I wore a mask. A decade ago, a brain injury forced me to take it off. At first, it was very very scary. As I healed from the injury, I found I did not want to put it back on. It is so much better without it and living an authentic life – not trying to be anything but myself. And I’m OK with that.
    Debbie Hampton recently posted…How To Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve for Better Mental Health

  • Reply
    Evelyn Lim
    February 15, 2019 at 7:24 am

    Woah…this is a powerful post! I enjoy the metaphor of the mask. Taking off my mask is something I’ve been working on. I’m also thinking that a lot of us put on masks for our FB or social media accounts.

  • Reply
    Elle Sommer
    February 16, 2019 at 2:49 am

    It’s a funny thing Vidya…but as a born natural happy soul, I’ve been accused of wearing a mask…when the reality is it’s simply my natural state. Back in the day I used to feel I had to defend myself. But today…not so much. I’m basically a happy soul and glad to be one. And I count my blessings.

  • Reply
    Sandra Pawula
    February 21, 2019 at 3:20 am

    This is really a sad story! I do my best to be authentic. But I know there is so much in our unconscious, we can only be as authentic as we are clear and that is a continually unfolding process.
    Sandra Pawula recently posted…10 Simple Ways to Quickly Calm Stress or Trauma

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